Tunisia’s unemployed revolutionaries head to Europe

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By Louise Sherwood

Sofien Dechich, 25, left his home in Tunis, the Tunisian capital, just a few weeks ago with dreams of making his fortune in Italy.

Four days later he boarded a fishing boat which sank 12 nautical miles (22km) from its destination Lampedusa; of the between 100 and 140 on board only 56 survived and Mr Dechich’s family do not know if he is alive or dead.

The night he left he called his father and said: “Please ask God to let me go now and survive.”

His father told him: “God be with you and take care.”

I need to find about 1,000 Tunisian dinars ($640; £395) so I can go again. I’m not afraid. I’m already dead here”

Walid Trabelsi, 21
Resident in Jebel Ahmar, Tunis
Since the tragedy happened the mothers and sisters of the missing young men have been protesting outside government and embassy buildings in Tunis carrying placards and large, framed photos of their sons and brothers.

Mr Dechich’s family was amongst them. His mother is too distressed to speak but his sisters are desperate to get their story heard.

“We want to know what happened. If he is dead we want to see a body. Why are the authorities not telling us everything? We want to know the truth,” said Aida Dechich, 31.

In Tunisia locals call such attempts to reach Europe “the burning” – young men, driven by unemployment and poverty, risking their lives to illegally enter Italy in the hope of a better life.

Mr Dechich is from Jebel Ahmar, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Tunis, a street away from Mutuelle Ville one of the wealthiest suburbs.

It is easy to find “burners” in Jebel Ahmar willing to risk their lives on the dangerous boat trip to Europe.

“I went to Lampedusa and stayed there for a year,” says 21-year-old Walid Trabelsi.

“I worked in agriculture and didn’t make much money but still life was better,” he says.

“Then they arrested me because I didn’t have any papers and sent me back. Now I’m unemployed.

“I need to find about 1,000 Tunisian dinars [$640; £395] so I can go again. I’m not afraid. I’m already dead here.”

Read more at BBC 

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Picture Credit- BBC

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